Clinical Diagnostics and putting a Tortoise back together again (Day 624)

Tortoise Dog Attack

Todays Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

This morning I did my clinical diagnostics exam, the first part was practical where I had to examine a cow for a suspected foreign body (of course it was negative!) and then justify what I did. The second part of the exam was theory based and I had to talk about clinical methods, different methods of diagnosis and the different ways to assess the nervous system. I manage to do ok and got a C!

To celebrate I went into clinic, for me after spending so long stuck in books seeing patients is a reminder of just why it is all worthwhile. A week or so ago I was talking to some colleagues in the UK when dog bites on tortoises came up – rather stupidly I said I had never seen it here so today not 1 but 2 dog bite victims turned up in clinic. These had both been attacked by a dog for just a few seconds… This was really sad for me as these tortoises were nearly the same age as me 🙁

Sadly the first patient had very severe injuries, both the top (carapace) and bottom (plastron) parts of the shell were broken, and there were severe lung injuries (the lungs are just inside the top part of the shell) so sadly we had to euthanise this patient to end its severe suffering. The second one had part of the side of the shell missing along with fractures to the carapace and more shell pieces missing elsewhere. We could not determine any internal injuries so are hopeful it has a chance of survival.

To do this we used dental acrylic, along with a framework of thermoplast (a cast material used for fractures), some old x-ray film and several hours of time. These are the before and after photos…

Tortoise dog attack shell repairNow as you can see we have basically built an entire framework for the shell to heal, sadly however in tortoises this process is extremely slow. This repair material will be in place for at least 6 months with the high probability that it will take over a year to heal.

Please, as interesting as the surgery is, I’d be happy to never have to see this again so please do not let dogs mix with a tortoise or turtle as cute as it may look!!!

Some thoughts on dog spa’s…

Dog getting massage

As any dog owner will know, grooming your pet is an important experience for both involved. Brushing and washing your dog from a puppy makes the experience better in the long run, and can be a real bonding experience for the owner and dog. It should always be as enjoyable as possible for the dog, and be cut short before it gets bored.

The Basics
Keeping your dog healthy and clean can help to prevent countless problems including periodontal disease, ear infections and yeast infections. There’s an easy way to remember the routine – Cleanliness, Health, Appearance, Inspection and Relationship, or CHAIR. Ensure you clean your dogs eyes, ears, mouth and nose carefully, and brush the dog regularly, depending on its hair length; some need once a week, whereas some can be groomed just once a month. Make sure you know your dog well so you can look out for unusual irritations, and be aware of any special needs you may need to take them to the vets for. Before you do anything you should brush your dog thoroughly with a good brush – matting in fur can trap bacteria which causes yeast infections, and can pull skin back from the muscle.

How Spas Can Help
As well as getting veterinary treatments and regular cleaning, many dog owners like to treat their pooches to alternative therapies which sometimes come in the form of doggy day spas where the trouble is taken from you.

You might want to take your pet on holiday with you, but find it isn’t allowed into many buildings – and we know they deserve better than a cage in a room. The Las Vegas Doggy Day Care allows you to leave your dog in the capable hands of their specialists who groom and massage the dog, as well as a thorough clean, which aids blood circulation and keeps muscles loose. They even have a live camera page so worried owners can keep an eye on their pets – if your dog is a lucky mascot for your online gambling at, you can at least have his image nearby when trying your luck at the casino. The Ritzy Canine Carriage House in New York has customized beds, a range of exercise and agility equipment and many options for massage and grooming.


At Home
You too can replicate the feel of a canine spa at home, if you feel like indulging your pup. Some websites will teach you how to give your dog a relaxing massage to warm up, calm or ease their tension; try incorporating nice smells like green tea, candles and cinnamon. If it smells good to you it’ll smell good to them.

Some dogs don’t like to be dressed up but if you can get them comfortable with it at a young age, there are a few places that design clothes for dogs – even American Apparel! As well as designer collars, clothes and hats, there is also a special brand of dog nail varnish called Pawlish, which isn’t damaging to the dog like human varnish is.


This is just the tip of the iceberg though. While grooming is a vital part of a dog’s routine, alternative therapies such as using magnets, crystals, herbs and therapeutic touch are becoming more popular. Acupuncture and reflexology are also used more and more to prevent stress and disease in dogs. But remember – any treatment should be followed with lots of praise and treats to ensure future attempts are easy on everyone.

Food Hygiene final exam (Day 601)

Meat Hygiene Vet student visits

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Best Pet Hair Remover

Well today was my meat hygiene exam, this looks at all the requirements for the production of food products from poultry, fish and game. This was the subject for which I visited a chicken slaughterhouse (you can read about my visit here) along with a fish processing plant and other not so interesting places such as a mayonnaise factory for egg processing.

So the exam paper was 10 pages long with a short answer question and a long answer question on each day. The short answer were either for temperatures – such as what temperature game meat needs to be kept at, or how many days eggs can be marketed as extra fresh for. The long questions needed more input, there was one in my case looking at the diagnosis and transmission of TB (Tuberculosis) in birds, another one wanted the slaughter process for poultry, another to describe the qualifications for a layperson to inspect game carcasses. It’s all pretty interesting as general knowledge however unless you are going to specialise in one of the specific areas is going be rarely used.

When I finished I was not entirely sure how I felt about my paper, it was one of those where I was going do really bad or really well. In this case however I did really well, I found out about 3 days after the exam that I had got myself a A!!! Still not entirely sure how but definitely am not complaining here!

I guess the biggest lesson I am taking away from this though is that smoked salmon is not always smoked salmon! Apparently it’s totally legal to market it as smoked salmon when instead of using a smoking chamber they just use the “aroma” of smokedness! Really don’t like this one and so you should always check the pack ingredients to see if it lists an aroma or if it is proper smoked salmon!!!

Day 600 of Vet School Abroad

Monitoring Anaesthesia in Surgery

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Hedgehog Food

Wow, where does time go? It feels like only last week I was talking about Day 500 (check out 500 days of vet school in pictures) where I did a photo roundup of my vet school highlights. So today I decided that I would talk about the highlights of my past 100 days (what I can remember of them anyways!).

So these 100 days have been nearly an entire semester of vet school for me, and in some cases such as food hygiene (the exam which I have tomorrow) my entire education in a certain area of veterinary medicine. It’s been interesting really to learn how meat is actually slaughtered, processed and packaged to go out to retail.

I’ve also started Pathological Anatomy which is the study of disease processes on the structure of body tissues, this is pretty cool as we’ve done 6 post-mortem exams during this class. The rest of the classes go towards looking at the microscopic changes in the structure, its really important to understand exactly what a disease does before you can work out how best to treat it. Its classes like this that separate vets from anyone just searching google for symptoms (and in some cases trying to self-medicate) – vets understand the small details!

Anyways this semester has also been my falconry and wildlife rehabilitation training which has been absolutely amazing. This is something that is not really touched on in a lot of universities however I am very lucky here that they do!

Another new thing we’ve started is Epizootology which is the study of infectious diseases, this is a 3 semester module so very big and so I hope to find some time in the summer to go over everything we have done so far this semester to try and stay on top of it! It is interesting as to me at least it shows how we fail as humans in turning a blind eye to things that are problems until they really blow up into a crisis.

This has also been my introduction to surgery and anaesthesia which has been a whirlwind tour of a massive field crammed into just 48 hours over the 13 weeks! Really scary when you think about it…